Portrait – Part I

Survival Poem

Poem

 

She’s unbreakable —
first live and a tiger:
her father use to abscond to the market
on his moped for
coffee and fried breadsticks,
and show off to neighbor
and kin;
she was not yet 10, but
she survived
so she deserved adult food,
all indulgence,
and his respect.

She loved him back
equally, maybe:
he was a great cook, tucked
in all his kids,
let her play basketball,
slipped her
extra cash for social outings,
never raised a hand,
and when she married
taught his son-in-law how
to cook the
things she liked to eat.

She hid with
her husband during the war,
and when the Reds came
all was forced
to the country;
he didn’t hear from her,
so he wept whenever he held
her firstborn.
She found him again —
bone-thin —
and she never forgot
the quivering of his body
as it burned.

 

next: Portrait – Part II

more by JUN HUA EA

photograph by Thong Vo

 

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